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tv   Book Discussion on The Fever of 1721  CSPAN  May 31, 2016 5:00am-6:01am EDT

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in. >> a doctorate in journalism working as an advertising agency director when he
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isn't researching and writing. telling the story of the epidemic to strike boston the lead to scientific changing and scientific advancement called informant live again solidly told in the deeply researched account please join me to welcome the author. [applause] >> i voted absentee and of that makes me a former officials or not but, i would rather be here right now. by the way it is the non-partisan position is a
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phase you work for the poll worker but it is cool to the register new voters and naturalized citizens it is pretty cool i like a lot all kidding aside. they give for the introduction. thanks to harvard bookstore this is my first time here. but i have heard about this store everybody has an now have been walking around and it smells like of bookstore should smell and how we should look and i am happy and proud to be here. also booktv i have never been on but i have watched in many, many times it is a pleasure to be featured and also to all of you for coming this is my fourth life even the first was in madison wisconsin i got all
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my friends to go and my wife and her friends. then we went to chicago i got all of my in-laws. she has the very big family see. so again we had people. on sunday i was in connecticut so i am there originally so i have all my friends dating back to high-school but i haven't seen that got to go. tonight i felt think i know any of you so that is very flattering. when my sister lerner would be presenting a book she gave me a vice if it goes
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over good do it every time you speak. / with like to announce this is my first appearance but it is my first appearance in this area so that is very cool and also my first appearance on booktv so it is wonderful for me. tonight i thought i would start with a very short reading from the introductions of you have not read it you will get an idea of the scope as there are three plot lines. i don't have time to talk about all of them so i would give u.s. sense of what it is about and i will talk about one of the characters
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that everybody knows to associate with boston and then we should have plenty of time for discussion. >> i will start with the introduction from the book "the fever of 1721". >> 1721 might be the most important year in the evolution of modern medicine and american liberty. with a smallpox epidemic a long position that saved hundreds of lives launched a new medical discipline the eradication of the most deadly disease.
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the inoculation overtime would be modified to prevent the deaths of untold millions of people and in 1721 it was considered primitive than barbaric and tantamount to a tentative merger -- attempted murder many rank-and-file bostonian suppose it and some of those would be willing to do anything to stop it. smallpox came to boston for the first time in nearly two decades. it arrived aboard a british warship by the time a bird is about one year later approximately half of the town's 11,000 inhabitants had been infected. among those who will skate death for 300 men women and children that under bonded
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it began with the present -- incision implanted with fluid of someone that had broken now. the idea was to produce an extremely mild and tolerated case of the disease to have unit immunity from future infections. prior the inoculation was and never heard of it came from a theological conservative and is already one of the most controversial members in boston. chiefly and dealing with hysteria six decades earlier generally regarded to superstition and infatuation with the enthusiast ted monitor of europe and beyond
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to dismiss the proposal out of hand but one doctor accepted the challenge in the 1721 and 42 years old successful as a position in shopowner had achieved a measure of fame for his son, the good track record but was relegated to the second tier of practitioners because he lacked for many colleagues so franklin never would have watched it for nearly four years of struggling boston printer was looking for an opportunity for newspaper modeled on the best publication to be provocative a&m dishes and
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differ from those already in circulation they would hunker for open is to support his plan into action at if nothing more to reprint the excerpt along with the spectator commentary it would have made a contribution to journalism but it went further he published distinctively american essays and letters depths soon to criticize the religious and political establishment of colonial massachusetts with was scandalized the father's generation "the daily show"
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of its day in the argument can be made the american social and political satire began and with everything that followed even to himself part is descended from it he was also hoping to invent what was regarded as a first american in san two years after the 12 year-old benjamin franklin was indentured as "the apprentice" for the next three years for the trade that would make him wealthy his inspiration came from this brothers printing house that contained a large library of books and periodicals their
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conversations about politics and religion in the social issues of the day fired his mind and imagination he began to see the complexity and fold them in 1721 he was given from rose seats to the inoculation and controversy when he learned from that debate and his involvement but in the newspaper changed his life and help to define him as a political philosopher and a diplomat in the sense anything he ever really needed to know he learned in 1721. buyers early 1722 he was ready to take the public stage it is fitting the political movement that made
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him famous as a patriot was coming of age at the same time he was the man behind the first organized push was a doctor turned politician the son of one of the most beloved politicians had inherited his father's fortune empowers for politics for his 1684 constellation after being elected for the first time he put those to work opposing and obstructing the royal government goes ahead built the first political machine is also become one
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that accused him of poisoning the minds of his countrymen in order to assert independence of new england. it in 1721 the smallpox epidemic served as the catalyst for american journalism the coming-of-age the beginning of american independence this book is about that epidemic in the story of five remarkable men held their courage and daring evasion and in the time of crisis thank you. so i have five main characters in this book i will concentrate the rest of my time unquestionably the
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most famous of the characters someone generally associated with philadelphia there remain very much a boston point. he would leave boston in 17 years old and would never return again sometimes you it's a rather tough stains hoffa yet named his daughter virginia so he hoped the french bid would be blessed with 12 more children for one for each of the colony's and one was massachusetts that was even too harsh so he never did return
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permanently but it is safe to say since wherever he went he kept tabs on boston famously his friend rode with that military occupation in closing the port there were tears in 1784 franklin wrote a letter confessing not only that he longed to see boston again we know he did not return there was not buried their dead did remember the town in his will to have the same amount of money to boston so he knowledge how much it
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meant to him but that only begins to reflect how importunate was to the development of the writer here is my contention in this book the five years he spent with his brother as an apprentice and especially the year 172120 had a front-row seat to the inoculation controversy was the most formative years of his life no question. i said everything he needed to know he learned in 1721 by elaborate on that. so tonight i want to talk about the for that we don't know about the earliest part of his life but because he
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has such allies life the first 1520 years think they deserve more so we want to talk about how those franklin brothers got together and struggled to make a go of it and how that would influence what would happen and ultimately in his entire life. james n. benjamin were the fourth set the height of the eight children he had already been married once with seven children from the first marriage and then had 10 more. he was the tenth and youngest and because he was very religious he hope to
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tie event to the church making the gift to the minister of you wanted to be a congregational minister in good standing and then he went to harvard college to start off as a training ground so even though he did not have a lot of money that was not a highly esteemed dear highly paid job somehow he decided he would send his son to harvard to make to the minister. with benjamin franklin actually did quite well but the problem was the that he
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lacked the calling and there is a famous story about that one winter his dad was putting the provisions he turned to his bother and said we should just prior for the apparel wants instead of every single time they sit down to eat. that is a typical type of logical piece of logic cannot for a preacher so when he decided there was no point to incur the expense and pulled him from school at 10 years old it was hot quirk bring down the animal
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fat to process. even at this age was strapping and strong he hated it it was mindless said he told his father he wanted to see the world. his bader was very upset because it was common knowledge that being a sailor was said dangerous occupation the eudora lost a son the oldest had left home against his wishes and was lost taxied either store or pirates so a josiah was determined that he'd not suffer that fate he took
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today off of work trying to find him an alternate occupation in for a variety of reasons it didn't work out some then there back into the shop and benjamin is still miserable and his father is worried you will run off to see. in the midst of all this tape is franklin is 20 years old and was "the apprentice" in note good at his trade in seeing how exciting that was he told his bader i need to start my own print shop in an josiah's said no way. because he needed the money to do this edges i would have to borrow it he said no
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way because genes should cool his jets to get to know the business better but mainly he thought there were already enough printers and the town could not support another printer in the venture would fail the james was determined to kept pushing in one year he was begging for the many with benjamin in the other beging to do anything but so he capitulated in told james i will get you the money provided you take your brother or princess. that sounded like a good deal but they were practically strangers as franklin had been away almost all of ben franklin's life and didn't know each other very well but it was
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the best deal either could get so james franklin in benjamin went into business directly across from the town prison and by the way if he started the old state house and look at a plaque on the building you will see when they have their printing house it is gone but it marks the spot. after two years of dreary work he was in his element
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surrounded by books and pamphlets and materials and setting type and doing things that were natural but there was more to it his brother was no slouch as a thinker or writer and more important aid dash for other young men like yourself who were tired of the extreme religious oppression nearly every day they ever drop by the printing house to talk politics and philosophy of course, benjamin could not participate but he was
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soaking it in. but these were his teachers that he did not get when his father pulled him out of school if you read the autobiography franklin talks about his self education he taught himself remedial math and how to be a better writer. but he doesn't say that working for james in that house with books and men that inspired him to start that self education. very soon after joining james and the printing house his spirit was nearly broken and then was back looking for another job it reflects
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just how bad he felt at that point maybe he was even severely depressed but now he was in his element but business why is not so much they were not so good. to uzziah franklin was right to. and to make matters worse who was a nephew of the most established printer in all of new england to read a dynasty to open a eighth printing house right across the alley. now it was a certain see --
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a certainty now any of their business would go to them so left the brothers within a month in a fairly desperate situation. now james found what he had to do was print fabrics for the rich women in town that is not with the team to boston to do also he had to carve is he was deal the person who was artisan enough to carve the woodcuts for illustrations. that should have been a great advantage that they are the only ones to have
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these customized woodblocks however james had to put these out to his competitors so it was a bad situation when he was not humbled by bad luck in fact, they advertise the fabric printing capabilities and said he printed fabrics without this know that, the intent the lyndon. so things have gotten pretty desperate. and that created more stress. and james was intense and moody benjamin was strong-willed in many years
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later he would admit he was a bill is the best apprentice because they were in a bad state business wising data on each other's nerves we know from the autobiography that unfortunately was not uncommon but that ben franklin resented the rest of his life so really being on the edge of failure if he couldn't get enough of the available work in town he would have to create some content in during this time he found a broadside ballot and was printed with the
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verses specifically geared to be a melodramatic recreations if we would do them today we would say there ripped from the headlines in a congressional to the street and sell them for little money for little money makers first you need the event exciting enough and also someone who would be willing to write that for little money in franklin got his you bent the lighthouse keeper were coming back as a
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small boat approaches the island and for some reason mysteriously overturned in a river and drowned. what made the tragedy worse was the family's other daughter was watching the whole thing from the island. favor at the elder reaches of the harbor they had survived all types of terrible weather they had all of their sheep that was swept into the ocean by a storm people would not have been shot if the storm had killed them but this was a
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nice day saw was a sense of irony so james heard about this and found a poet next to him benjamin franklin had in a local who considers himself a poet and uncle had encouraged little ben so could the 12 year-old boy create a drama to sell a lot of copies to get them out of trouble? nobody knew the answer but benjamin was free and james was desperate.
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he loaded dealers in question dealt the door and went to sell the broadside ballot so it was a phenomenon decades later in one sentence it was wretched unsold wonderful thing that is very ben franklin like even toward the end of his life he had done so many things he had been nervous pride for what he had written when he was 12 years old now he had a big windfall now he had money in had wait for the next big event ended january there
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was word that blackbeard was killed off the coast of carolina. he was one of the most famous pirates in history part of it is what we did a -- what he did and how he looked and parted down the middle part of the ideas he looked crazy so he must me in fact, to boston had a reason to be a free - - to be afraid of him he had promised to burn boston to the ground because it tried and convicted and hanged a fellow pyrite.
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so when the bostonian stirred -- heard that it was very big news when they heard of the circumstances james franklin realized he had enough for the broadside valid. so the track to ship the black beard had a much bigger ship and firepower after playing a drum up he started to curse out his passengers and then he would take them into attack and then he would open fire it wasn't long before he pounded them into submission they were disabled he thought he had one he approached the lead ship
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thinking there was no resistance but instead there was an ambush sneak attack from the crew below deck. so reformists battle broke out the capt. shot blackbeard but it didn't kill him and then one of the sailors stabbed him in the neck and blackbeard said well done lad. and he was flattered but then he proceeded to decapitate him so then they
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throw the body into the ocean with the head on the ship and go back triumphantly. when franklin heard this this is what i need he put benjamin to work writing another valid in interestingly enough you think it would be more successful but it wasn't me be with just a little too much for the puritans but it did wake - - but they did make money thinking he found his niche the gipper the fabric and to draw about his illustrations are over. although they were popular and successful they were looked down upon as they
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were considered tawdry and inappropriate. so his father was one of the biggest critics he was not wealthy with the humble trade bloc but largely because of his involvement with the church he had managed to climb socially saudia socialists of the most powerful men in boston one of the judges was a regular visitor in the home in one of the most esteemed people in all of massachusetts so he was not happy of the drowning but decapitating a pirate was something else. he told them if you continue doing this your life would
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be worthless the said you better stop when james franklin owed his father of the money so he was obligated to honor his father's wishes so that all ended the only real money-making scheme there were able to devise into years and by the beginning of 1721 after a brief stint printing in the newspaper they found them where they had started no further along toward security where they could survive another six months but they did learn when the situation changed
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to make the difference he discovered that he could succeed ben benjamin fisker read 12 he could read better than most adults regina's wanted to start his own newspaper inspired by publications in london but he held off because the town had to newspapers that smallpox came to boston and now is almost 20 years and would create the worst smallpox epidemic epidemic
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suburbia first inoculation experiment at act using his son would cause a controversy and james being a businessman realized he could exploit that controversy to stir in the newspaper he always wanted to start such to be the first in america without government approval in fact, the first to argue for the right of the press without punishment and that is 70 years in new england current
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newspaper chains the course of american journalism it also puts his little brother on his way to fortune by this point was very accomplished printer bernie had to be a successful and innovative publisher it would receive the most important lesson of scientific experimentation and how to challenge authority and in the pages of the newspaper he would read your express ideas of political freedom that 50 years in the pit future would make them a formidable
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opponent. [applause] does anybody have any questions please wait until the microphone comes around to the nudity have a question of. >> yes this is fairly sizable and had to be deep enough in mountain smallpox that was inserted was to be
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the volume of the peak remember this is before anybody understood jurors period so that was one of the biggest threats of inoculation it was the secondary infection that came with a dirty knife or in employment of some kind. >> so the person that was being inoculated this person that came from was already very sick but in some places the reason we know that this work the slaves that worked
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in the family they had told them that back in africa would never smallpox came to a village get these into his credit he asked him to explain so that procedure was inoculation that he read about in between those two he was convinced it would work. >> i think it is remarkably well researched and i enjoyed reading it. how long did you been thinking about this information?
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>> is started literally with a calendar page in 1990's i got a desk calendar one talks about the first use of inoculation in that it was this very controversial and that is all i knew. and you that cotton mather was the bad guy but i had never heard of him. so i did little research that is very so did on the medical part but as you dig deeper you realize it was
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also about political history in very much what made benjamin franklin benjamin franklin. but years past i didn't do anything with the screenplay but then a friend said right at as a book so i decided to research in earnest enough to do the whole book after seven years that i would shorten it by half and then publish it i did after we got a lot of the back story. doing the research there is a lot of idle -- autobiographical stuff everything should be done up
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to that point so i had all this information and say everything all at once but what ended up happening there was of little bit of back story to basically from what came of it. >> i didn't know about the broadside balance that he did it because he was sorry to be ever suspect this some point it could have been his
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brother? he should have been this seems obvious but if you read backwards with knowledge of hindsight you can see different places where ben franklin peeks out but he did not know because there was such strong for bowen to do anything without permission from his master as a breach of the protocol if you put them to work on something because he was the master when he found out he was very increased to the but i agree.
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it seems obvious in hindsight but i guess at the time not believing he would do that because even james under estimated bin. he didn't want to see how brilliant his brother was. soviet their character is fascinating. he is the man who started the original boston caucus the first political machine in america 1719 through 1721 is when it came into power belies checkup was tabled the person with his father always resented when they
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cancel the first charter he had a hands-off approach so in that with the way with the new charter that took away the autonomy, the father was outraged in was a strange from england passing it down to his son. he didn't talk like the subject of the crown and spent the rest of his life and elisha cook, jr. took on the causes to make life miserable for anyone he was
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enemy number one in the organization that he created gave birth to the heather caucuses -- the other caucuses by which the american revolution was started. you may not know from the book that sam adams had a tie to elisha cook he head deputies in the 17 thirties and forties what of those was known as the deacon and was samuel adams senior and allies should cook would me at the addams house and, jr. would be there. will they were discussing political philosophy and
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that is really where sam adams got his politics from malaysia cook -- eli should cook. >> he comes from a as a parliamentarian. >> although elijah cook was rich he went out of his way to have the luck in the behavior of the economy and building power by owning pubs and taverns would get political power those ever eligible in never voted to become engaged with the system off into this and harvard-educated and will he -- will see even though he had that upbringing in terms of how he dressed and samuel
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adams did the same thing. >> he said he started off to be a much greater and then became the basis of the first amendment with freedom of the press. i could research that but i don't know that what sam adams defended? >> that was debunked by the late 17 twenties he got the best of james franklin to be ostracized and went to newport but you talked in the book there was a
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connection and i will forget the names now but but the whole trial happened before that. but that president already was a mood in america that would criticize the government even though it wasn't legal so benjamin franklin would continue with his newspaper and it did have an influence.
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>> eight you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] savings for coming in tonight. we will have a signing at the table books are for sale at the counter in the next room.
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